Stop $88bn illegal outflow from Africa – Akufo-Addo urges states
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on African nations to collaborate and institute stringent measures to stem the disturbing annual illicit outflows of $88 billion from the continent.
He said stern attention was required to arrest the situation immediately because the phenomenon was depriving Africa of significant resources that could be used to support its development agenda.
President Akufo-Addo made the call when he addressed the closing ceremony of the three-day African Prosperity Dialogues (APD) at the Peduase Presidential Lodge in the Eastern Region last Saturday.
“We need to pay serious attention to and arrest illicit financial outflows out of the continent, which are estimated at about $88 billion dollars annually, depriving Africa of significant resources that could be used to support our development agenda.”
“We need concrete measures to stop the systemic impoverishment of our continent and theft of its resources,” President Akufo-Addo stressed.
The African Prosperity Dialogues
The unique conference attracted Africa’s political and business leaders who brainstormed on building the world’s largest single market, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). It was on the theme: “AfCFTA: From Ambition to Action, Delivering Prosperity Through Continental Trade”.
The Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD) is an African initiative aimed at proposing signature policies to ensure the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is fully implemented.
The three-day retreat, which began last Thursday and reached a climax last Saturday, was held at three different places – Adukrom Akuapem, Kwahu and the Presidential Retreat Centre at Peduase all in the Eastern Region.
It attracted some high-profile personalities, including the former President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, as well as some African business leaders such as Ralph Mupita, Group CEO of Africa’s biggest telecommunication company (MTN); Kenyan billionaire, Julius Mwale, and Ethiopian Airways Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mesfin Tasew Bekele.
President Akufo-Addo, who has been touting the AfCFTA as one major policy when implemented fully would help in developing the continent, noted that already the continent had achieved some 90 per cent convergence of the rules of origin with the exception of a few commodities and $9 billion worth of investments had been secured by the AfCFTA secretariat.
He, however, indicated that there was a great deal of work to be done to realise the full benefits of intra-African trade and also suggested four fundamental elements to its progress, including stopping the illegal inflows.
Four thematic areas
Additionally, President Akufo-Addo suggested the need to invest in productive capacity, and critical infrastructure and continue to embark on policies that would deepen industrialisation, digital transformation, skills upgrading and infrastructure development.
He added that this should be done by accelerating the implementation of continental programmes such as the programme for infrastructure development in Africa, the comprehensive Africa infrastructure development programme, the digital transformation strategy for Africa, the science technology and information in innovation strategy for Africa and the action plan for the accelerated industrial development of Africa.
Africa, President Akufo-Addo added, should continue to improve its business and investment climate and strengthen business and investment promotion organisations.
That, he said, should be done with a view to creating an enabling environment for the private sector to contribute to the development of inclusive and sustainable growth in Africa through industrialisation, trade and the creation of widespread employment opportunities.
He added that governments and private sectors should work to provide opportunities for the development of women and young entrepreneurs with a view to achieving gender equality, empowering women and girls, as well as engaging the youth in the production of centres of the economy.
For the private sector, especially micro and small-scale and medium enterprises, President Akufo-Addo urged them to take advantage of the largest single market on the planet to increase value addition from the economies of scale and expand their businesses.
He called for the scaling up of efforts to mobilise domestic resources to support Africa’s development agenda.
That, he explained, included the productive sector as well as the need to broaden and diversify financial products through innovative financial mechanisms, such as sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, insurance savings, private equity funds, diaspora and sovereign bonds, impact investing, green bonds, remittances and public private transaction, among others.
Touching on the fact that technology and innovation are transforming industries in every sector of the global economy, President Akufo-Addo said the ability of African countries to harness and apply technology, the process of innovation, particularly through new and emerging technologies such as nanotechnologies, biotechnologists, artificial intelligence and robotics to transform structurally Africa’s economies and educational systems, was critical to realising those potential economic benefits.
“However, accessibility, affordability and inadequate regulation and governance frameworks are still impeding the development of emerging technology across the continent,” he added.
He said it was imperative to build technology and trade policy convergence while introducing and adopting new approaches to Designing Converging Technology and trade policy regimes.
Success of APD
President Akufo-Addo further stressed the need for quick wins on the implementation of the AfCFTA to accelerate development on the continent.
He said it was encouraging to note that as of November 2022, 44 African Union member states had ratified the AfCFTA, adding that “there is strong evidence of the great political will and commitment of the leadership of the continent to achieve market integration in Africa.
“It is our duty to engage to ensure full participation of all member states.”
Highlighting the successes chalked up at the event, the President said: “The last three days have seen some of the best African minds and expertise at work.
They reiterated our collective desire to transform the African continent.
“The insightful discourse filled with great passion and fuelled by the wealth of cutting-edge knowledge and business experience has ensured that we have a practical and pragmatic compact action plan to drive accelerated implementation of the AfCFTA,” he said.
“We need quick wins and this is exactly what the outcome of this dialogue offers us, as well as a concentrated focus on the steps towards the prosperity of the African people,” President Akufo-Addo emphasised.
The Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area, Dr Wamkele Keabetswe Mene, said despite COVID-19 and global geological instability, the continental free trade area had been able to establish a new regime of trade in Africa and now had all the legal documents required for commercial and meaningful trade to take place.
He explained that the secretariat had put in place an electronic tariff book, rules of origin manual which enabled traders and economic operators to determine with certainty the harmonised rules that applied to them as they sought to trade within the African continent.
He added that they had established the Pan African payment and settlements system along with Afro-Exim Bank.
He said with the introduction of the payment system, “a small, medium or young entrepreneur in any part of our continent, going forward will be able to trade in local currency without having to face the challenges of the cost of currency convertibility”.